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MCS APPEALS FOR SIGHTING REPORTS

Picture by Colin Speedie/MCS


Windsurfers asked to report marine wildlife sightings


While out on your board this summer, you stand an excellent chance of seeing some of the UK’s most exciting marine wildlife. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is appealing for your reports of basking shark, sea turtle and jellyfish sightings in UK seas.


The basking shark, reaching 11m in length and weighing up to 7 tonnes, is the largest fish in UK waters and the second largest in the world. Their colossal size allows them to be easily identified as they glide through the surface waters with their huge mouths agape, harmlessly filtering plankton. The MCS Basking Shark Watch project was launched in 1987, and so far we have received over 8,400 sightings, totalling over 29,000 sharks! The critically endangered leatherback is the largest marine turtle in the world, reaching up to 3m in length, and it is the most commonly recorded in our waters. In 2005, 62 sightings of leatherback turtles were reported in UK waters.


Very little is known about the life history and ecology of these spectacular and threatened animals, so it is vital that we continue to collect information on their numbers and distribution. Jellyfish are the staple diet of the leatherback turtle, so in 2003 MCS launched a National Jellyfish Survey to record jellyfish swarms at sea, as well as beach strandings. We have since received over 3,500 records of 8 species, and are beginning to understand the seasonal distribution of these beautiful creatures.


Recording forms, identification guides, posters and further information are available free of charge from the MCS. Basking shark, sea turtle and jellyfish sightings can be reported to MCS on 01989 566017, but basking sharks should ideally be reported online at www.mcsuk.org.



 

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